Mindful Powers seeks to empower kids struggling with self-regulating emotions by teaching them how to harness their mindfulness "super powers." Developed by leaders in the education and health sector, this app provides a way for kids to learn how to control their emotions when they feel overwhelmed, and is supported by a skills-based methodology.
I appreciate that upon opening the app, an environment of calm envelops you. Initial instructions suggest you do not engage unless you have fifteen minutes of quiet time. Calming music and a young narrator guide you through an underwater world to meet a Flibbertigibbet, a bouncy, spherical creature who accompanies you during your mindfulness training. The narrator explains that although Flibbertigibbets have many talents, they have a hard time focusing and controlling their big emotions, so it is the player’s job to train them. Presumably, children playing this app struggle with similar problems, so the game’s framing allows them to connect to the Flibbertigibbet while creating a sense of control and responsibility as they guide their companion to master mindfulness with them.
The two main components of this app, Mindful Play and Focus Timer, stress that mindfulness is a superpower, and that honing skills daily gives you the ability to freeze time and even change your brain. Instead of making emotion control and focus a chore or punishment, this app cleverly characterizes mindfulness not just as desirable and fun, but as almost superhuman. During Mindful Play sessions, children prepare themselves to focus and learn by slowly smoothing their Flibbertigibbet’s bumpy exterior until both player and creature are calm enough to engage in a lesson.
Mindful Powers encourages parental involvement through helpful tips and suggestions on how and when to use the app, mindfulness 101, and what a child can achieve by using the app. There is also an emphasis on only using the app if children are open and receptive to it, which is critical to its success.
As is often the case with in-app purchases, it is a frustration and disappointment when you reach the fourth level only to realize you must pay $4.99 to continue on with your mindfulness training. While the first three levels are free, if you intend to use this app long-term, expect to make a payment.
Additionally, although the app establishes a mindful environment, there are a few ways it could maintain that environment better. When utilizing the Focus Timer, which allows the user to set a timer when they need to focus on something, the fact that the Flibbertigibbet remains with you while you focus is a nice thought, but ultimately distracting. I kept wanting to touch it, even though it would remind me not to. Additionally, while smoothing my Flibbertigibbet was supposed to be calming, bumps continued to resurface throughout the task, which made the process anxiety-inducing for me since I wasn’t allowed to speed up and take control of the problem.
As a social-emotional learning tool, Mindful Powers is successful in creating an environment of learning, though I’d argue it isn’t always successful at maintaining it. I think it has great potential for kids who struggle with focus, stress, and big emotions, but definitely invest in the full product if your plan is to utilize it as a long-term tool.Image: Mindful Powers Smashing Ideas